"The Sultan of Swing"

Hossam Ramzy


Originally a native of Cairo, Hossam Ramzy, musician, composer, arranger, producer, teacher and choreographer, began his musical career at age 3 when he was given his first Egyptian Tabla. His grandfather, Ibrahim Pash Ramzy, was a well-known playwright who wrote original works and translated Shakespeare into Arabic. His uncle, Hassan Ramzy, was one of Egypt's finest film directors and producers and was head of the Chamber of Cinema Industry. His mother, while not a professional musician, played classical piano and sang Um Kulthoum songs while accompanying herself on the oud. However, even though he came from such an artistically accomplished family, his choice of a musical career was not an easy one.

While his mother supported his early interest in music, Hossam's father, who was head of the Faculty of Science at a university, saw the medical profession as a more respectable career for his son. So, having already become a sort of child celebrity at the age of 12 through his appearances on TV, his father whisked him away to Saudi Arabia. But instead of discouraging his interest, Hossam was introduced to many of the Bedouin tribes, met such great composers as Tareq Abdul Hakim, and gained the rich insight into the cultural origins of Middle Eastern music that became the inspiration for many of his later musical directions.

In the mid 1970's, having discovered the music of Miles Davis and falling in love with jazz, Hossam moved to England. There, under the tutelage of Joel Rothman, he enjoyed great success as a Jazz and Latin style drummer working with many highly respected musicians, such as Andy Shepard and Geoff Williams. He even landed a gig as percussionist with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra.

Then one day while in his late 20's, a friend invited Hossam to go to an Arabic night club. Although not particularly interested, he went along anyway. He had been looking for new directions in percussive sounds and suddenly there it was. "What the hell am I doing? Out of the Middle East tabla all this sound comes?" He cancelled all his jazz gigs, started performing in Arabic night clubs in both London and Cairo, and found himself once again turning back to his first love; the Egyptian tabla and the thrilling dance rhythms of Middle Eastern music.

Hossam's distinctive percussive sounds and rhythms caught the attention of Peter Gabriel who invited Hossam to perform on his albums "Passion" and "Us". Then in 1994 Hossam was invited to put together a band of Arabic musicians, called "Pharaoh's Egyptian Ensemble", to work on Robert Plant and Jimmy Page's triple-platinum reunion album "No Quarter - Unleaded", and on their 1995-96 world tour. Since then Hossam has been touring extensively with various artists including many top Arabic singers like Cheb Khaled, Rashid Taha, and Yasim Salkim, one of the most popular female vocalists from Turkey. Hossam has also worked on many award winning film soundtracks including "Star Gate", "The Saint", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Last Temptation of Christ".

In addition to being a much sought-after performer, Hossam is also an accomplished teacher. His vast knowledge of rhythms and techniques along with his sense of humor and accomplished communications skills make his workshops a memorable learning experience for anyone lucky enough to attend one. He has written a number of articles for various publications on subjects such as "Understanding Raqs al Baladi" (Habibi vol 13, no 1), "Art vs Technique" (The Caravan vol 14, no 3), and a wonderful article admonishing dancers, "When are you going to start dancing to the music?" entitled "Been There, Done That, Read the Book, Seen the Film, And Got The T-Shirt!" (Zaghareet! Jan/Feb 1998). To date Hossam has recorded over 15 albums of Egyptian Dance and World Music, many with dance students and teachers in mind. He also has his own Egyptian dance school in London and tours Europe and the United States teaching and performing.

Hossam Ramzy

For more information about Hossam Ramzy's upcoming tours, workshops and available music see http://www.hossamramzy.com/.


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This page last modified: September 20, 2006